Tag Archives: romance

I’m baaaack

My family and I had a wonderful trip to Manchester, England and Yunnan Provence, China. That may seem an odd combination, but we went to Manchester to spend Christmas and New Years with family and then on to China for a wedding and time with friends.

We’re back now though. Which means the blog is open again. I have a few reviews to post from my time traveling. But I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I expected to. We simply did not stop. So, the only reading I did was on flights.

I read The Highest Tide, Blood of Elves, and One Dead Vampire. I was pleased with all of them.

Reviews:

The Highest Tide, by Marian Perera:

I liked this more than I expected to. I appreciated that the woman is the physically strong one who saves the day most of the time. She’s quite capable. I appreciate that she was allowed to be scarred, even if the author wasn’t willing to go as far as to let her heroine be ugly. Even scarred, men think she is beautiful. Which, of course, she can be. But I felt like the focus detracted from the fact that women don’t have to be beautiful, even if flawed, to be a heroine. It felt like the author got half-way there on not classically beautiful representation. But I’ll take what I can get. Similarly, I appreciated the little LGBTQ acceptance slipped in with no fuss or obvious ulterior motive.

As for the romance, I liked both characters and liked them together. But I didn’t feel the romance was well developed. Too much of the book has them avoiding each other, so there isn’t a lot of interaction. And for one of the characters the ‘love’ is so instant even he says he feels as if he’d been struck by lightning.

All in all, however, I’d be more than happy to read the rest of the series.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski

This book got me through a 10 hour flight. It was nothing like I was expecting though. I expected a lot of fighting, like in the prequel short stories. Instead, I found a lot of humor as a group of clueless men try to figure out raising a young girl. I quite enjoyed it, though I found it slow at times and Sapkowski’s writing style a little sparse for my taste. I’ll be continuing the series though.

One Dead Vampire, by Kris Ripper

Cute & fluffy. I generally loved Rocky and all of the side characters, plus all the representation. There’s a fat and fabulous main character, several characters of varied sexual and gender identities—using any number of pronouns—and characters of several races. I do think this is a book not written for those invested in remaining with-in the confines of the comfortable majority. I suspect I’ll see more than one review saying all of the pronouns and such were unnecessary or too hard to keep track of. But I think that’s more a matter of what you’re used to. It certainly works. 

I did feel like Rocky was too clueless about both the supernaturals and police procedure to have been raised in a supernatural cop family. Plus, I felt like all those cops/detectives enabling her compromising an investigation felt super unnatural. And the eventual reveal of the villain was too random to feel satisfying. 

The romance is secondary to the mystery and pretty mild. But, as I liked both characters, I was willing to roll with it. I was less able to accept that Rocky had given up her best friend because the friend had the audacity to go away to college. 

All in all, this was a higher than middle of the road read, but not five-stars for me. I’m well up for continuing the series though.

Review of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower

I received a free audio copy of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower.

Description from Goodreads:

Lady Catherine Langdon is special, and not because she’s the daughter of a duke. She comes from a long line of individuals born with extraordinary gifts, and she is one of the few that has a variation of all three. On the brink of war she makes a decision that will irrevocably alter the course of her life—love or duty.

Asher Rossington, the Marquess of Seabrook, decided at a very early age that he would not live an idle life. His father forbade him from being a spy for the crown, but he chose to ignore it. Ash never regretted his choice, but wished he could have repaired his relationship with his father before he died. Now with the fate of the world in turmoil he has to make another hard decision—remain a spy for king and country, or go home and honor his father’s title.

The Great War brings Catherine and Asher into each other’s lives. Only time will tell if their destiny is to be together, or if they will ultimately serve a higher purpose.

Review:

Both the title and the book description are inaccurate.Wildly so. I kind of even question it’s classification as a romance. At least in the sense that the romance genre is one in which a a love story is central, where the “main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work.” That’s present yes, but it’s barely central.

I’m not actually claiming this isn’t a romance, just that it doesn’t feel as if the romance is central to the plot. The characters fall in love within a chapter of meeting and the whole rest of the book is the war. They pass each other on occasion and tell each other how much they love each other. But the love is established early and there is NO TENSION OR CHALLENGE TO IT. Only the inconveniences of war. And honestly Asher seems to have free movement around France. So, it hardly even feels like that much of an impediment. 

Even the hard decision referred to doesn’t exist. The two are firm in their non-decision to stay in France (as in they never even discuss anything else) until a singular event makes them both decide to return to England. (And that isn’t honoring Asher’s father’s title. That is never a consideration in the narrative.) Since they both have the freedom and funds to make leaving happen in a day there is no difficulty in it.

Also, it’s war and they can leave in a day. That tells you how much tension the war is really creating in the narrative. Not much.

Then there are Catherine’s abilities. They are mentioned. But if you took them out of the book the plot wouldn’t change at all. The single vision she tries to act on doesn’t come to pass and the one that you’d expect her to act on (based on past behavior) she doesn’t. The ‘gifts’ are a pointless plot device. 

And as to the title? Asher is in no way a rogue. There is nothing even remotely roguish about him. In the last chapter he thinks to himself that he had been a rogue before meeting Catherine. But that’s it. He’s kind and gentle and loyal and respectful throughout the book, and there is no reference to him chasing other women in the past. HE’S NOT A ROGUE at all. 

The writing here is perfectly competent, as is the narration. But I felt like the book was just a random series of events with very little tying it all together. Even characters appear and disappear with no point. Why did we meet James, have him disappear and be replaced with Julian? Plus, (as I said above) the description totally is inaccurate. This wasn’t a total flop for me, but I didn’t finish it particularly thrilled.

Review of Love on a Train, by Colleen L. Donnelly

I received an Audible code for a copy of Colleen L. Donnelly‘s Love on a Train.

Description from Goodreads:

The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world. 
Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry. 
David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband – hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it. 
Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again. 

Review:

My rating (which was a 2 star) is based on my enjoyment—or general lack there of—and the fact that I had to force myself to finish the book. The writing is solid and I’ll even concede that the book within a book mechanism was clever (though occasionally repetitive). And the narrator (Amy Deuchler) did a good job with the audio version. However, I didn’t enjoy the book.

I understand that it was supposed to be set just after the end of the world war and women of that time period had different responsibilities and restrictions. But my god, Martha was a fucking doormat. She didn’t stand up to her mother when they pushed her into an engagement she obviously didn’t want. She didn’t push pack when her fiancé (and mother) expected her to give up all of herself to be a wife. She somehow fell in love and thought to marry a man she met on the train, but apparently didn’t actually know that well. She just went along with everything, internally hand wringing the whole time. And despite being obviously smart, she had NO AMBITION beyond getting married.

Then there was the fact that said man was already engaged to another and just disappeared for months without a word. But as soon as he shows up everything was forgiven and it’s supposed to be a happy ending. Ummmm, no.

And Donnelly should seriously be fined for making the reading of a novel take weeks, dragging the plot out interminably and then, after hundreds of pages of ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ marry him, having the decision and event (arguably the most interesting thing to happen in the book) happen off page, such that the reader is denied it.

I imagine this is just a case of wrong reader for the book. There will no doubt be some that enjoy this. But I did not. I was almost insulted by it.